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Breaking Stereotypes : Halima Aden, the First Hijab-Wearing Model is Believed to be ‘Truly Representative of who we are as America’

The hijab - one of the most visible signs of Islamic culture - is going mainstream, with advertisers, media giants and fashion firms promoting images of the traditional headscarf in ever more ways

Halima Aden
Allure magazine's editor-in-chief, Michelle Lee describes Halima Aden as a "normal American teenage girl" on the front cover of the magazine's July issue (VOA)

New York, September 13, 2017 : Roughly one year ago, Denise Wallace, executive co-director of the Miss Minnesota USA pageant, received a phone call from 19-year-old Halima Aden asking if she could compete in the contest wearing her hijab.

“Her photo popped up and I remember distinctly going, ‘Wow, she is beautiful,'” Wallace said.

The Somali-American teen made headlines as the first hijab-and burkini-sporting contestant in the history of the pageant.

The bold move catapulted her career to new heights involving many “firsts,” including being the first hijabi signed by a major modeling agency.

“I wear the hijab everyday,” Aden, who was in New York for Fashion Week, told Reuters.

The hijab – one of the most visible signs of Islamic culture – is going mainstream, with advertisers, media giants and fashion firms promoting images of the traditional headscarf in ever more ways.

Nike announced it is using its prowess in the sports and leisure market to launch a breathable mesh hijab in spring 2018, becoming the first major sports apparel maker to offer a traditional Islamic head scarf designed for competition.

Teen apparel maker American Eagle Outfitters created a denim hijab with Aden as its main model. The youthful headscarf sold out in less than a week online.

Allure magazine’s editor-in-chief, Michelle Lee, is also in the mix, describing Aden as a “normal American teenage girl” on the front cover of the magazine’s July issue.

“She is someone who is so amazingly representative of who we are as America, as a melting pot it totally made sense for us,” Lee said.

Fashion model and former refugee Halima Aden poses during a shoot at a studio in New York City. (VOA)

Aden, born in Kakuma, a United Nations refugee camp in Kenya, came to the United States at age 7 with her family, initially settling in St. Louis.

She fondly recalled her time at the refugee camp saying, “Different people, different refugees from all over Africa came together in Kakuma. Yet we still found a common ground.”

In America, she was an A-student and homecoming queen. Now, her ultimate goal is to become a role model for American Muslim youth.

“I am doing me and I have no reason to think that other people are against me,” Aden said. “So I just guess I’m oblivious.”

Aden said she is content being a champion for diversity in the modeling industry, but in the future she hopes to return to Kakuma to work with refugee children. (VOA)

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Is Islamic inequality a conspiracy against the God?

Islam was conducted in a sense it was never meant to be

An eternal religion like Islam is always targeted for its preachings. Wikimedia Commons

Religion was the purest creation by humans to guide them to a better life, but it is clear that religion is being misused by many to create chaos and misery.

Islam, which is the World’s second largest religion, has become to symolize as the largest religion of devastation. A religion that believes that there is only ‘One God’ and that is their God, has now come to stand for turbulence and violence.

Historically too, Islam has always been linked with ‘terrorism’, but what gave rise to this scenario? The synopsis of this situation is not the right interpretation of ‘Quran’. The term ‘Jihad’ which literally means ‘to strive for the betterment of society’ has been deceitfully presented which leads to production of terrorists like Kasab (he quoted it in his letter to his family). The greed for 72 virgin women, which is just a story, makes them a ‘person of mass destruction. ‘ In the name of God, some ‘juvenile’ people choose the path which they are not familiar with.’

Islamic Terrorism
It is often stated that most of the ‘Terrorists’ are Muslims.Wikimedia Commons

A religion should always teach and preach about equality but Islam surely fails when it comes to their women. They are not so privileged as men are in an Islamic society. Why is it so? Does religion discriminate between two on the basis of gender? Why a Muslim man is taught to think about 72 virgin women but a Muslim woman is told to consider one man as her god? Why a man has a right to marry thrice but a woman is allowed to marry just once?

Islamic scholar Imam Tawhidi’s tweet raised a question on the fairness of the Islamic religion.

The disparity is not limited here. A woman who leaves her home, her parents, her career and even her surname; a woman who makes a home a home; a woman who sacrifices her everything for a man; is the one who is out thrown from her own home just by saying ‘Talaq, Talaq, Talaq’. Is a relation between a husband and wife established on these three words? Why only Muslim men favoured with such power?

Culture of Hijab
Women are meant to cover their full body in Islam. Wikimedia Commons

The word ḥijāb in the Quran refers not to women’s clothing, but rather a spatial partition or curtain. However, the preachers of Islam say that women should get all her parts covered by confidently stating that it is mandated in the Holy Quran. Yet another example of inequality on the basis of gender but the compelling truth is that these customs and thesis are created by the human itself and not Islam. This is how Islam is misused to spread fallacious beliefs among the people and making their life miserable.

Does Islam need to reform? Or do preachers of Islam need to introspect and reform?

– Sumit Buchasia of NewsGram. Twitter @sumit_buchasia

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Positive Changes In The Modeling Industry

fashion industry has gained immense popularity thereby becoming one of the most influential industries over the years. Pixabay

Ten years ago, could you have imagined seeing a model who wasn’t young and stick-thin on the ramp? It was utterly impossible. However, the course of winds has changed and there is a positive change ushering into the Modeling Industry in terms of inclusivity. Models who were absolutely absent from the ramp until now are now being represented widely and this new kind of representation is being welcomed as a positive development.

With the advent of mass media, the fashion industry has gained immense popularity thereby becoming one of the most influential industries over the years. A problem arising out of the growing stature of the modelling industry is that people all around the world try to emulate the standards of the fashion world. It has the negative consequence of propagating the notion that the people who walk the ramp are “models” for others. They are to be imitated and idolized because they are what the “perfect people” should look like.

This is physically and mentally harmful not only for the people actively working in the Modeling Industry but also for the section of the population who feel the need to be like them in order to be accepted by the society. Apart from facing body image issue, many people have been driven to starvation, anorexia, depression, eating disorders and even suicide because of the need to conform to the image portrayed by mass media.

Much to everyone’s relief, the unpropitious affects of the Modeling Industry have finally been tackled by the government of various countries. One of the most constructive developments took place in France where the government imposed a ban on anorexic models.

France’s ban on anorexic models


    France Bans Anorexic Models./Pixabay


As of now, models in France have to submit a BMI report to prove that they the adequate weight. Another significant headway has been the interdict on retouched photos. The psychological sequel that occurs when you are not happy with the way you look, forcing you to alter your looks digitally to appear “perfect”, has such substantial effects that the ban comes at a benign time to control further damage.

Marisol Touraine, the Minister of Social Affairs and Health in France, told the media, “Exposing young people to normative and unrealistic images of bodies lead to a sense of self-depreciation and poor self-esteem that can impact health-related behavior”.

Experts have called this a right move but a wrong approach. Some people in the Modeling Industry opine that this prohibition will indeed cause an unfairness of a different kind. What’s the possible reason behind such viewpoints? Let’s find it out.

Ban on anorexic models based on BMI not the right way forward?

Claire Mysko, Director of Programs for the US National Disorders Association, told VOA, “Body Mass Index cannot be the measure of one’s health. Just because someone is at a very low BMI doesn’t mean they have an eating disorder, and just because someone is the normal range or even in the high range of BMI doesn’t signify that they don’t have an eating disorder either”.
Albeit the objective behind the ban is being applauded, specialists are worried about how the screening process being embraced to select models, is not a holistic one. They suggested that a proper system that takes into account the attitudes of models toward food, weight and body is necessitated.

Katrina Mason, the policy director at Eating Disorders Coalition in Washington DC posted, “Measuring BMI isn’t necessarily a good factor in determining whether someone is or not having a disordered eating lifestyle I think there are other factors that should potentially be taken into consideration.”

Formed in 2007, the Council of Fashion Designers of American, in its mission statement, took up the concerns of models who are underweight. It mentioned, “Eating disorders are emotional disorders that have psychological, behavioral, social and physical manifestations of which body weight is only one.”

Ramp walk. Pixabay

It’s not just about the models

The prohibition in France Modeling Industry, does not only concern the health of models but also initiates a clampdown in the country where more than 40,000 of its population suffer from anorexia. The ban on retouched photos targets websites which falsely advertise thinness as the ideal notion of beauty thereby facilitating disordered eating.
While anorexia is an issue faced by both men and women, 95% of the patients have been women. As estimated by the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), 30 million people in the US out of which 20million are women will struggle with an eating disorder at some point of time in their lives.

An American model cum actress, Lyndsey Scott speaking on the ban initiated by France, commented, “I was an All-American 400m runner at 5-feet-9 and 108 pounds during college. Perfectly healthy, but still way under an 18 BMI. Bodies naturally come in all shapes and sizes. Even people with eating disorders can have a so-called healthy BMI. Perhaps they should have doctors check for signs of anorexia and bulimia instead of making assumptions on weight.”

However, with the new changes being launched in the Modeling Industry, more and more models are flouting the conventional rules and walking the most influential runways of the world.

“Older” models

The 69-year-old model Maye Musk slayed the ramp while walking for concept Korea at New York Fashion Week thereby breaking the conventional notion that beauty is defined by age. She was also featured on the cover of one of the most prestigious magazines in the world-CoverGirl.

When the Senior Vice-President of the magazine-Ukonwa Ojo was questioned about their decision to put Musk as their CoverGirl, he retaliated, “Mate Musk is not only a timeless beauty but a visionary who has always followed her own path, creating new opportunities for so many others who might not meet the industry standard of “model”, but are truly beautiful in every regard. This is exactly what CoverGirl is all about: owning your identity and proudly sharing with the world all the facets that make you, you. She is an affirmation of the power and importance of diversity and inclusivity in the world of beauty.”

Flaunting baby bump on the ramp


Kareena Kapoor Khan flaunting her baby bump on the ramp./Wikimedia Commons


Pregnant celebrities walking the ramp is one of the latest trends. In the Modeling Industry renounced models like Miranda err, Alessandra Ambrosio, Lily Alridge, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Shveta Salve set the ramp on fire while flaunting their baby bumps. A celebration of motherhood and maternity serves as a silver lining in an industry that has conventionally conformed to unreal ideals of beauty.

Models with prosthetic limbs and wheelchairs steal the show at LFW

London-based designers Catherine Teatum and Rob Jones featured amputee models at the Lakme Fashion Week that was held in the last month. We saw the models arriving on the ramp in wheelchairs.

Enrobed in a moss-colored ribbed dress, a model showed her prosthetic leg while another was draped in a blue silk gown. These women were the main focus point of the designer duo’s show titled, “The Body Part Two”.

The fashion industry is finally accepting the fact that age is just a number and that beauty has various parameters for judgment. It is not all about long legs, thigh gaps, cleavage and fair skin anymore. The Modeling Industry has finally initiated a process of inclusion and accommodation of standards which are set by real people for real people.”


-Prepared by Mohima Haque of NewsGram. Twitter: mohimahaque26

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New law in Tajikistan bans hijab, asks women to stick to traditional clothes

Unlike Islamic countries, women in Tajikistan do not wear a hijab that is supposed to be wrapped under the chin, but a scarf that is tied behind the head

Tajikistan passes law for women to stick to traditional clothes
Tajikistan bans Islamic veil. Pixabay
  • Legislators in Tajikistan passed a new law requiring people to wear country’s traditional clothes
  • Reportedly, the decision is intended to stop women from wearing Islamic clothes
  • Women wearing hijab are already forbidden from entering the government offices, under the existing laws

New Delhi, September 5, 2017: A new law that requires people to “stick to traditional and national clothes” has been passed by the Tajikistan legislators, adding Tajikistan in the long list of countries that ban or limit Islamic dress.

Although the legislation hasn’t specifically mentioned “hijab”, but the authorities’ previous statements about hijab representing an “alien culture” makes their goal to discourage women from wearing Islamic hijab quite apparent.

Despite it being a Muslim majority country, Tajikistan’s minister of culture, Shamsiddin Orumbekzoda, talking to Radio Free Europe, called Islamic dress “really dangerous”.

“Everyone looks at them with concern, like they could be hiding something under their hijab,” he said.

Unlike Islamic countries, women in Tajikistan do not wear a hijab that is supposed to be wrapped under the chin, but a scarf that is tied behind the head.

Women wearing hijab are forbidden from entering government offices in Tajikistan
A woman wearing hijab working in Saudi Arabia. VOA

Under existing laws, women wearing hijabs are already forbidden from entering the country’s government offices. In August, around 8,000 women wearing hijabs were approached by the government officials, in the capital of Dushanbe, who were then asked to wear their scarves in the Tajik style.

According to the Daily Mail report, police last year, in the Central Asian state, convinced 1,700 women to remove their headscarves, arrested 89 hijab-wearing prostitutes and closed down 162 shops and stalls selling hijabs.

Also ReadNothing New! Muslim Women who don’t fully respect Islamic head scarf are Prostitutes, says an Iranian Cleric

The Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, while delivering his Mother’s Day speech in March, criticized women for wearing “foreign” black clothing. He had also criticized hijab in 2015, when he stated that blindly copying a foreign culture is not a sign of having high moral or ethical standards for women, as mentioned by the Al Jazeera.

While many citizens support the law considering the security and preservation of culture, many are polarized over its implications regarding personal liberties.

“I have to decide for myself what to wear. No one has the right to tell me ‘you have to wear this,’” Oinikhol Bobonazarova, a human right activist told RFE.

The new legislation carries no penalties as of now, but some have claimed that punishment or fines may be introduced later.

Tajikistan calls itself a secular state with a Constitution that provides for freedom of religion, however, the religious practice among the citizens of the Muslim majority country, seems to be tightly controlled by the state.

France, Netherlands, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany are some of the many countries that have banned full face Islamic veils.

-prepared by Samiksha Goel of NewsGram. Twitter @goel_samiksha